Tag Archives: UIL

Mount Vernon HS grid coach brings trouble … who knew?

A part of me isn’t terribly surprised by the story that developed over yonder at Mount Vernon High School. Then again, is it fair to lay the responsibility of this tempest at the feet of the newly hired football coach? Oh, probably not.

But still …

Two Mount Vernon High School football players have been ruled ineligible to play. The school won’t suffer any forfeiture of games after playing these student-athletes during the team’s first five games of this football season. The University Interscholastic League had considered the forfeiture on the basis of the players enrolling at Mount Vernon simply to play football; the UIL thought differently. It won’t take away the first five wins from Mount Vernon, but the players remain ineligible.

Here, though, is where it gets weird. The new Mount Vernon HS head coach is Art Briles, the former head coach at Baylor University. Briles was fired in the wake of a sex scandal that occurred in Waco involving student-athletes who played for Briles. A law firm hired by Baylor determined that Briles should have acted to prevent the sexual assaults that were occurring, but didn’t.

The scandal also cost the athletic director his job as well as that of the president of the school, Kenneth Starr. Briles was shown the door. He coached football abroad for a couple of years before he got the call to coach Mount Vernon High School.

So, now he’s back in the game (so to speak) in this country. Granted, the eligibility issue concerning the two young men who were deemed ineligible has not a thing to do with the nature of the scandal that erupted at Baylor University.

It just seems to me that trouble seems to follow Art Briles.

Or … maybe it’s just a coincidence.

Strange, man.

‘We are the champions!’

Queen’s classic rock hit is likely going to ring in the halls of four Texas Panhandle high schools this week … maybe longer.

Four terms of girls won state titles for their respective high schools.

The champs hail from Canyon, Panhandle, Canadian and Nazareth high schools. Why is this a big deal?

It is for a couple of key reasons.

One is that the champions all play on high school girls basketball teams. Title IX brought extra visibility and status to girls athletics across the nation. Back in the Dark Ages, when I attended high school, there was no such thing as girls’ team athletics. We didn’t have girls volleyball, basketball, wrestling or softball competition.

Girls competed in track and field and if memory serves, that was about it.

It’s a different — and better — era these days for girls athletics.

The second reason is that these four championship teams hail from the Texas Panhandle, which arguably might be the forgotten region of our vast state.

We see our power diminished politically as population grows more rapidly in other parts of Texas. The Legislature is forced to redraw legislative and congressional districts every decade and the trend is the same: the districts grow in geographical size because the state’s population is becoming increasingly clustered in places like Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and the Valley.

But our athletic “power” and prowess remain intact.

I should take particular note that Canyon High won yet another state title. Coach Joe Lombard’s won-lost percentage is astronomical in the extreme. I cannot remember precisely what it is, but the man has coached his teams to many times more victories than losses.

The CHS trophy case must be getting terribly crammed with state championship trophies.

Four state champs in a single weekend for this outpost region called the Panhandle of Texas? Not bad at all.

Congratulations, young ladies.

Cue the music. “We-e-e-e are the champions … “

Boys will be boys … oh, wait!

Color me confused and confounded over this one.

A transgender athlete — a girl who is becoming a boy — has just won a state high school wrestling championship as a girl. The athlete hails from Euless, Texas, a Fort Worth suburb.

I am not going to get into the debate over transgender rights with this blog post, but I do want to express my utter bafflement over how this story is playing out.

Mack Beggs wrestled this year as a girl despite taking testosterone — the male hormone designed to assist in the gender transformation. The University Interscholastic League, which governs high school athletes in Texas, has a rule that stipulates that athletes must compete according to the gender noted on their birth certificate.

Beggs was born a girl. He is taking hormone injections that — if I understand it correctly — boost an individual’s physical strength.

So, while competing as a girl, Beggs has the strength of a boy, which was apparent in the fact that Beggs went undefeated this year. He won all 56 matches while grappling with girls.

Beggs’ family said Mack wanted to rassle with boys, but the UIL rules wouldn’t allow it.

I am uncertain as to the number of transgender wrestlers out there who find themselves in Mack’s shoes. They are part or most of the way toward their journey from one gender to another. Must the UIL stick to that birth certificate identification rule or is there wiggle room for the governing body to make exceptions for someone such as Mack Beggs?

I cannot help but wonder about this individual’s future and whether winning a girls wrestling championship will have any meaning for him later on.

I presume Beggs will complete his gender change eventually. He’ll become a man. Will he display his trophy on his fireplace mantel and recall with pride and recall how he beat up on girls to become a state champion?

It looks to me as though the UIL has some rule revisions to ponder.

Coach told ’em to hit the ref

moreno and rojas

Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas are two young men who’ve decided to tell the nation what has been suspected all along.

One of their football coaches told them to blindside a football official near the end of their game.

The official, Robert Watts, was hit from behind by the two San Antonio John Jay High School athletes in the waning moments of their game with Marble Falls HS.

Why did they do it?

An assistant coach has some explaining to do … more than likely.

Coach on the hot seat

If what the boys said is true, and we still need to hear from the coach — Mack Breed — has to face a serious reckoning.

The young players shouldn’t be excused for what they did to Watts. Breed, on the other hand, needs to come clean and either confirm or deny categorically any suggestion that he incited the act of violence.

The two boys — who’ve been suspended from the team for the rest of the year — said Watts reportedly tossed a racial slur at an African-American teammate and allegedly said something of a racist nature at some Hispanic players. That drew the coach’s ire, according to the boys.

Let’s get a reality check here. We’re talking about two young, and impressionable, boys. Who in their right mind — if that’s what happened — would plant any kind of mayhem-related idea in their minds while they’re in the middle of an athletic event involving full contact?

Moreno said this morning on “Good Morning America”: “You put your trust into a grown-up, your coach who’s been there since my freshman year. I trusted him that he wants the best for me and did what was I as told.”

Rojas added: “I wasn’t thinking. I was doing what I was told.”

OK, coach. It’s your turn.

You’d better be able to explain yourself.


This ref’s story becomes bigger than the game


Robert Watts no doubt doesn’t want to be remembered this way.

It’s out of his hands now.

He’s the high school football referee who was pummeled late in a game the other evening by two San Antonio Jay High School players. They blindsided him with a hit in the backfield late in a game against Marble Falls.

Watts says he’s going to press charges against the players, who’ve been suspended from school. What’s more, an assistant Jay HS coach, Mack Breed, also has been suspended.

Coach’s conduct in question

Indeed, the focus now is turning to the coach.

Did he encourage the young men to hit the official? Did he actually give them permission to do this deed?

If the answer is yes to either, then the coach needs to face charge of conspiring to commit assault and battery.

It’s been reported that Watts reportedly made some bad calls on the field that went against Jay … and that he allegedly uttered a racial slur in the direction of one, or maybe both, of the players who hit him from behind.

Suppose he did make some bad calls. And let’s suppose further that he said something offensive to the players. Is that how they should respond? By hitting a ref — while wearing body armor — so hard as to potentially inflict permanent injury?

The University Interscholastic League, which governs high school extracurricular activities in Texas, needs to spare no effort in finding out what happened on that field.

That the young men would do such a thing by itself is inexcusable. They must not play football again in Texas.

The coach’s actions also require a thorough investigation.

To say this kind of conduct is inexcusable doesn’t do justice to what these young men did.


HS football players face serious trouble


I marvel occasionally at the ability of football referees and umpires to stay out of the way of the action as it unfolds before them on the field.

One usually doesn’t worry, though, about players deliberately targeting officials for seriously vicious hits.

Perhaps we ought to worry now.

Two San Antonio-area high school football players have been suspended from school after they pile-drived an official during a game this past week.

See video here

John Jay High School was playing Marble Falls High School. The game was nearing the end. The ref was blindsided by the players. The video, which has gone viral, looks — to me at least — as if it was deliberate and malicious.

The John Jay head coach has apologized for his team. The Marble Falls coach said he’s never seen anything like what happened in his 14 years coaching high school sports.

The question now being floated is: Should the players be prosecuted for committing a crime?

The ref is so upset at what happened he’s considering pressing charges. If it were me and I was threatened with potential permanent injury as a result of two football players wearing body armor, well, I believe I’d file charges.

Poor sportsmanship happens. You see kids taunting other kids on occasion. They get reprimanded for losing their cool.

The video, though, suggests to me something considerably worse.

I agree with the school officials: Let’s let “due process” play out.

I believe the process is going to produce a criminal prosecution.

Take a look at the video. Your thoughts?


Say 'no' to 'Tim Tebow Bill'

Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy while playing quarterback at the University of Florida.

His pro football career has been something, well, less than stellar. Still, he remains an icon for his off-the-field endeavors, mainly due to his faith and, get this, because he was home-schooled during his high school years.

Tebow was allowed to take part in extracurricular activities in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., even though he didn’t attend school in the traditional sense.

Some Texas lawmakers want the University Interscholastic League to lift its ban on home-school students taking part in extracurricular activities.

Don’t to it, UIL and the Texas Legislature.


Parents are certainly entitled to educate their children the way they see fit. If they don’t want to enroll their kids in public or private school, they can teach them at home. Millions of students are taught at home as it is.

The idea, though, of allowing home-schooled children to take part in activities in actual schools shouldn’t sit well with the parents of children who are actual students in those schools.

The Texas Home School Coalition Association notes that parents who home-school their children pay property taxes that funds school activities and, thus, are entitled to have their children partake in them.

Is it fair, though, to allow parents to cherry-pick how they reap the benefits of the taxes they pay?

They don’t want their children educated by public school teachers, but insist that they be allowed to play football (as young Tim Tebow’s parents were allowed to do), march in the band, or perform in dramatic productions?

No. Those parents have made their choice on behalf of their children.


UIL to end steroid testing of athletes

Texas athletic officials enacted a steroid-testing program for high school student-athletes thinking that they would discover widespread abuse of the muscle-building drug.

It didn’t happen. The state looked high and low, tested thousands of youngsters and found virtually zero steroid use.

Therefore the state is likely to end its testing program, saving Texans a lot of money.

Good deal.

The University Interscholastic League, which governs extracurricular activities for Texas public high school students, reports finding two — that’s it, two! — cases of steroid use in 2007-08. The UIL tested more than 10,000 students.

There you have it.

The rampant plague of steroid abuse among student-athletes doesn’t exist. Consider it the same as the weapons of mass destruction that were supposed to have been stored in Iraq prior to our March 2003 invasion; our troops arrived, looked for the WMD and didn’t find a thing.

It’s good that the state is heading toward ending the steroid-testing program. It’s even better to learn that despite the hype and hoopla that the state’s high school athletic community isn’t full of juiced-up freaks looking for any edge they can find.


UIL biennial shuffle will never end

The Texas University Interscholastic League has finished its biennial shuffling of high schools’ extracurricular activities league.

I guess the big news in Amarillo is that Amarillo High and Tascosa High have been put back into the same district. This time it’s a newly configured Class 6A district. They’ll be cutting the travel time that caused apoplexy among THS parents and boosters the past two years. Good deal, I reckon.

Since I didn’t have kids enrolled in either school, I didn’t exactly have a dog in that fight. Some folks were upset that their kids had to travel so far to play some sports or take part in cheerleading or marching band activities. That’s all done — for the next years at least.

Some of the smaller high schools in the Panhandle weren’t so fortunate. They’re having to travel greater distances, but since they’re out there in the country anyway, those AHS and THS parents and boosters won’t get so exercised over their plight. We’ll leave it to those local parents to raise a ruckus with the UIL.

I’m one of those who wishes the UIL would leave these alignments alone for longer periods of time. The two-year flirtation with separating two rival schools — AHS and THS — and placing them in separate enrollment classes and districts didn’t set well with football purists in Amarillo.

I get that. What I don’t get is why the UIL has to mess with this alignment so frequently. Don’t the folks at the UIL headquarters have any feeling for the headaches these constant changes cause among local school district athletic directors, superintendents, principals, coaches, students — and oh yes, those testy parents?

What’s the answer? I’d start with lengthening the realignment schedule to once every four years. Build in a little bit of stability to extracurricular programs. Save some hassles, headaches and heartburn along the way.

And leave the kids alone.

UIL mixes up the pot some more

It now appears Amarillo and Tascosa high schools are heading for a new classification under the University Interscholastic League sphere of things.

They’re joining the new Class 6A. That will put them in the same classification as, say, Allen High School — the beastly school that keeps winning state high school football championships.

More on Allen High in a moment.

Amarillo went from 5A to 4A two years ago. Tascosa remained in 5A and was placed in a district that required tremendous amounts of travel time and distance. The time kids were spending on buses to take part in extracurricular events didn’t set well with some parents. I don’t recall hearing too much griping from students, but Moms and Dads were highly ticked off about it.

We’ll see what the latest realignment will do to Amarillo’s four public high schools. AHS and THS join the big schools. Caprock and Palo Duro appear headed for a new 5A classification.

It all would be enough to make my head spin — if I had any kids or grandkids enrolled in school here. My interest is only on the fringes. My wife and I moved here as our sons were finishing college. They went to high school in Beaumont. One of my sons was active in band and marched Friday nights throughout East Texas. The farthest he traveled I believe was to Lufkin, about a two-hour drive north into the Piney Woods.

Back to this 6A matter. AHS and THS, each with a little more than 2,100 students, now will get to compete against some really big schools. I mention Allen because one of my grandsons attends that school, north of Dallas. Enrollment there is about, oh, Six Grand. That’s 6,000 students attending school on an enormous campus.

Is it fair to throw all these schools into this super-classification? We’ll find out soon enough.

It’s always intrigued me, though, how the UIL has to tinker so frequently with these classifications, just as the Texas Education Agency feels the need to monkey around with the school calendar every year. Back in my day — holy mackerel, I sound like my dad — the school year started the first Tuesday after Labor Day and ended around June 10.

The UIL, however, seems incapable of keeping its hands off of students’ and parents’ lives.

Good luck on this latest switch. See you guys in two years.